Domestic and sexual violence not gender neutral – wake up!

When it comes to evidence about violence against women, it amazes me how people make a bad habit of rejecting the ‘gender’ part to fit their own beliefs.

Although there is no single cause, evidence shows certain factors consistently predict higher levels of violence against women. Along with stereotypical gender roles, relations and identities, these factors include disrespect for women, unequal or controlling relationships and low support for gender equality.

Gendered patterns in crime data bear witness. For example, according to Victoria Police crime statistics on offenders processed for the 2013/14 reporting year:

  • 87% of homicides were committed by men.
  • 98% of sexual assaults were committed by men.
  • 83% of non-sexual assaults were committed by men.

We know that a gendered approach to tackling this issue makes sound sense.

Domestic and sexual violence is not a random event that can strike anyone, for no reason. It is both a consequence and a cause of women’s inequality – period. It is linked to a culture that undermines, belittles and devalues women.

This is not to say that men are not victims of domestic and sexual violence. Of course they are. And of course violence occurs within a range of different relationships, and sometimes involves male victims.

Violence against men by women is however the exception rather than the rule. They are not part of a systemic culture of gendered physical and sexual violence that some men enact against women, children and other men.

Domestic and sexual violence is all about gender and, advancing equality must be centre stage as the solution to Australia’s alarming rates of violence against women.

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